Does Free Speech on the Internet Actually Exist?

by Christopher Paul on December 4, 2012

Nilay Patel writing about the internet and ‘freedom of speech’ secured by the US Constitution’s First Amendment:

So we’re living in a period of uneasy truce: people around the world are sharing their voices on the internet like never before in history, but they’re doing so under private censorship regimes equally unique in time. There is more speech than ever under more potentially unchecked control than ever. It is “a double-edged sword,” says Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Trevor Timm, with large corporations both enabling and controlling the ability for average people to reach a much larger audience than previously possible. “The top decision maker at YouTube has more censorship power than any Supreme Court justice,” he says. “We have to develop policies that better protect free speech from not only government interference but also corporate censorship.”

This shouldn’t be surprising but it’s something most people don’t realize… that private networks like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and others, can, do, and will sensor speech if they (even arbitrarily) feel it violates their Terms of Service. And it’s legal. The public outcry might be loud and acts as a balance to overzealous censorship. It also might not be the best thing for it’s business in the long term. But it doesn’t ignore the fact the First Amendment only states the Government can’t pass a law restricting speech or peaceful assembly.

via 512 Pixels

Previous post:

Next post: